Friends Milly Gjelstad, 12 and Kayla Gifford, 13, have taken their school project to the next level. Photo: Matt Brown.

School project leads to charity lifeline

A school project has inspired two young friends to embark on a special charity quest.

Rapaura School friends Milly Gjelstad, 12 and Kayla Gifford, 13, worked on an inquiry into Voyages, inspired by the upcoming Tōtaranui 250 celebrations.

The friends focused their efforts on voyages of a different kind – those made by Syrian refugees fleeing their homelands.

Milly and Kayla were so stricken by their plight they have launched a bid to help buy a lifeboat.

Kayla says she came up with the idea as a result of all the research the pair did into the issue.

“Throughout our research stage we came across ‘Atlantic Pacific, Lifeboat in a Box’ which is an organisation whom help people all over the world.

“It was quite eye opening. After emailing them some questions they mentioned that they struggle with funding for the lifeboats.

“The money that we raise will go towards new lifeboats to help those people in need,” she says.

The kind-hearted duo held a bake sale at school and sold honey made at Kayla’s home in the Waihopia Valley.

Milly says the pair wanted to raise money to help the organisation, that sends lifeboats to the Mediterranean, by making as much money as possible to put towards the project.

“We did a lot of research and although I knew some about the refugees, we found out a lot more.

““It’s good we can help,” she says.

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A day in the life of a primary school teacher

With rolling school strikes on their way, Rapuara School teacher Mikayla Avant sat down with reporter Matt Brown to talk him through a school day to help explain why teacher’s need more support.


5 am: Get up early and get ready to work out at the gym at 6am.

7.45am: At my desk getting ready for the day. You can plan weeks in advance, but something might go wrong, or something might change so your plan gets ripped up and scribbled out. Usually, I’m just sitting at my laptop planning, photocopying, printing.

8.40 am: School begins. We start with the roll, I call it fast admin.

“We go over what’s got to be done during the day, what’s important, and then reacting to whatever the children want to tell me.

9 am: Maths usually goes on until 10.10 and then the children go to morning tea after they’ve done their doubles; basic arithmetic, and they go and play.

10.10 am: If I’m not on duty, I pick up after them and I reorganise myself and get ready for reading. I might shoot over to the staff room to grab a coffee. Sometimes there’s something being said in the staff room that we all need to know.

10.30 am: Class novel. We’re reading Fish in a Tree in class. It’s about being kind and respectful.

10.45 am: Then, we have a reading program that we do, and I go through them with that. Recently, it’s been quite hectic because we have had a whole school enquiry, voyaging, based on the Totaranui.

11.15 am: If it’s not inquiry, it’s writing. We’re going to do newspaper articles starting next week.

12.15 pm: I’d say I have time to eat but I don’t really. I’ll eat if I’m on duty or I’ll grab a hot drink and meander around, make sure the kids are alright. Every teacher has a morning tea duty and a lunch duty. Otherwise, I’m either in here doing work, marking, reading. I’ll shoot over to the staff room, try to eat.

People think you can sit in the staff room, eat your lunch and have a yarn but you can’t. You always have got printing or marking or something to do.

You don’t get that leisurely lunch that everyone thinks that you get.

Rapaura school teacher Mikayla Avant says you don’t become a teacher for the paycheck. Photo: Matt Brown.

1.00 pm: 15 minutes of reading. I go around and make sure they are quiet reading and ask them some questions about what they’re reading.

1.15 pm: In the afternoon we have ‘inquiry’, so we go fully in depth in that area. That takes up the whole afternoon. Writing, science, technology, literacy, maths, everything. It’s about five weeks of really in-depth learning, or teaching from me, based off something wherever we’re going with that.

2.50 pm: School ends, for the children.

4.30 – 6pm: I’m usually here ‘til about five, six some nights and I always take work home. I would be lucky to get out at 4.30.

Because I’m a beginning teacher, I work, eat dinner, work. I probably usually put my laptop down about nine. On top of that, you still have your other paperwork behind the scenes.

I have meetings. Monday morning, Tuesday after school. Every fortnight I have a syndicate meeting at 7am. Thursdays I have a meeting with my mentor. I pretty much have a meeting every day, minus Fridays.

7.30pm: More preparation for class. If I get the chance, I might watch Netflix but that doesn’t always pan out.

9.30-11pm: I try to go to bed as early as I can but have to make sure I’m ready for the next day. I set my alarm for 5am and then do it all again.

School wows with wearable arts

Creative Riverlands School pupils wowed a capacity audience at the ASB theatre with their own special wearable arts show.

After weeks of hard work, pupils took to the stage to proudly display all their recycled finery in front of hundreds of family and friends.

The eagerly awaited show was the culmination of months of preparation by the whole school.

Wearable Arts Show coordinator Karen Paterson say she was delighted with the result.

“I want to especially recognise the work done by the pupils and their teachers over many weeks of preparation,” she says.

Behind the scenes, an army of parents, teachers and support crew were on hand to help the stars of the show get ready for their big moment in the spotlight.

The event would not have been possible without them, Karen says.

For many of the performers, it was their first time on such a large stage, performing in front of such a huge crowd.

But all went well on the night, leaving the mini performers tired and happy.

“A big thank you to the great Riverlands School parents and supporters who helped get the children’s outfits ready and provided such a wonderful audience on the night.

“Also thank you to Tamara Henry and the fantastic team at the ASB Theatre who were so awesome in helping the pupils and staff produce such a high-quality show.

“The children were buzzing and, quite rightly, very proud of themselves,” she says.

Karen says the sponsorship of the Redwood Trust had helped make the occasion more affordable.

“Performing on stage at such a large venue with professional lighting and sound was a special experience for all of the children involved,” she says.